Amber Housley

Welcoming a #FruitfulSummer

Fruitful Summer

 

June started like a breath of fresh air. It felt like a new season, a new marker on the second half of the year. In my mind I had a lot of things I wanted to get down and share with you here.

It never happened.

Instead, I plunged head first into the natural companion to June: the sweet summer season. Our fridge is fully stocked with popsicles and I somehow find little wooden sticks all over my house at any given point. We’ve spent our weekends in the glorious sunshine. Barefeet, sprinklers, pool time, staying up late. Even while fighting a brutal summer cold and my voice going hoarse, I’ve embraced this new season.

IMG_1710

My One Little Word for 2015 was “grow.”

I don’t think when I selected it in January that I’d have any idea how much that word would play out. If I look back now at what I set out to accomplish in 2015, there would be a lot of things left undone. A garden that didn’t get started. A gardening journal that didn’t get designed. To do after to do after to do…put on the back burner as we kept up with the daily marathons of work and school routines.

However, in the midst of all that stuff that didn’t get done, a lot of editing happened. And in turn, I started to grow. 

Behind-the-scenes at AH, I simplified things while I took a break to decide the next chapter. Suddenly, I had room to create again. In our family life, I opened the calendars for June and July and they were fairly empty. The hubby and I started discussing a couple of fun things we could do this summer for weekend adventures. Our family’s weekly appointments and meetings calendar isn’t filled to the brim and it feels so good.

IMG_1747

Space to breathe. Space to be happy. Space to just take care of my family.

Mostly, space to grow and find out what I wanted next for myself.

A few of the outcomes of all of this:

- I started scrapbooking again. My Friday nights have been my newly found creative time after the kids are in bed.
- I started working out again. I genuinely craved my body moving again. I look forward to sticking to my T25 90-day plan.
- I started clearing out closets and getting rid of “stuff.” I’m hoping to make more progress on this in the weeks to come.

There’s always more things to fill my time up with, but choosing to be intentional and giving myself permission to enjoy the simple pleasures of summer have been restorative (and it’s only June!).

Of course, all of this naturally led to me joining in on the #FruitfulSummer theme with Lara Casey + Making Things Happen.

Over the next few months, I will be following along with the theme of “Fruitful Summer,” and we’ll all be encouraging others to tend to the relationships in their lives so that we can all live more abundantly in love and encouragement. I had the pleasure of being a part of the Fruitful Summer Guide which you can get a copy of + a whole lot of other lovely FREE downloads by joining in here.

 

Preview

I look forward to sharing more updates on this in the weeks and month’s to come. I genuinely miss writing and carry around a lot of thoughts and ideas in my head. If only it was easier to eat a popsicle and type at the same time.

Cheers to making your own #FruitfulSummer!

 

 

2015 #Powersheets Goal Setting: Part 1

LC-Shop-2014-526_B1

Hello, friends. How has 2015 been for you so far? Still getting everything in order to make it the best year ever?

I am. This week, I’m working through my Power Sheets for 2015 and found that I needed to just write out a lot of the baggage I’ve been carrying around. What started as a list of what did work and what didn’t work in 2014 combined into one lesson after another.

So, here is my story for 2014 in all its messy parts — and in all its blessings. Hoping it might help just one person out there reading it and maybe to spur some change for yourself.

After writing all this out, I feel quite refreshed, just like how I’m approaching 2015.  I’ll follow-up later this week for some goals for 2015 and I highly recommend you check out Lara’s Goal Setting series over on her blog.

And, here we go….!

Lesson #1: Life will always go on and I don’t have keep up with the hustle that everyone else seems interested in. 

I started 2014 with the best of intentions. I knew our little baby girl was going to add an additional element to juggle and the time leading up to it I really embraced the coming time. I was mentally prepared for her and the affect on our life. Or so I thought…

Fast forward 10 days after her birth and I called a friend on the phone with giant crocodile tears streaming down my face. I was worried that the world would forget about me and my business. That I would be left in the dust and the world would continue on without me.

Yes. It was a big, selfish sob fest.

Looking back, it may seem silly to some to have these thoughts, but I had so much of myself wrapped up in constantly moving forward, that sitting still freaked me out.

It was a good reality check, and after a few words of stern advice from her, I have to say it was the best thing a new mama could have heard. It really set the precedence for the rest of the year.

I kept her words in my head. You will go away for awhile, and it’s okay. When you come back, it will be like you never left. 

Fast forward to the Spring, and momentum had picked up around here. I was on the path of blazing many, many trails. Our office days we were like busy bees as we prepped for the launches of new services, new product lines, and Inspired

Naturally, the pace started to wear down on me. On the outside, I probably looked incredibly confident. Everything was moving forward as it should. My always-planning self felt exhilarating to be mapping out the year of goals, tasks and metrics. But on the other hand, I was growing weary. The demands of being a new mom, working two jobs, being a boss and leader…I started to deflate.

There’s a certain gusto of energy that comes after a new baby. It’s as if you’re trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe it’s trying to reclaim your identity back? I’m not sure. In either case, it ended with me calling another friend who prayed with me on the phone. More tears. I was needing clarity but knew from earlier in the year, I was just trying to keep up with some sort of competition that didn’t really matter.

At that time, I decided I really despised the word hustle. I was wanting more heart and less hustle.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.41.42

Lesson #2: Chasing things is incredibly exhausting.
Lesson #2.5: Pause buttons are good.

 (are we sensing a theme here?)

Another blessing from this year was the gift of my heart saying “pause.” After I accepted the position with Studio Calico, it was timed with a week long vacation at the beach with my family. Man, did I need that time to stare at the ocean more than ever. From October up until the past few weeks, I put everything on pause. All the things I had wanted for so long – to prove I could grow a business, to be a boss, to even reaching six figure sales – I checked them all off and it all still felt empty and not fulfilling.

For the first time ever, I knew it was finally time to put on the brakes. I was searching for a lot of answers that my futuristic looking self needed but at the same time consciously knowing I just needed rest.

I trimmed off some extra things we were doing in the business, that while great income producers, needed a lot of extra time supporting and my heart wasn’t fully in it. I pulled back from a lot friends and ‘the outside world’ (i.e. the internet) and just sort of went through the motions. Waiting.

Waiting to know when it felt right again.

That time finally came again in the days after the new year. I can say the rest has been so restorative. I’m grateful that business still hummed along as I sorted things through. Sometimes you need to step back to get your groove back and that’s where I’m at.

In this time I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to just focus on my family again and the parts of my life I had been neglecting for a long time. I have a desire to work creatively again in many new ways. We also have some wonderful clients and projects underway that started in 2014 that I’m ready to give again to.

I think I was five years overdue on the pause button. I’ll be more aware of them in the future and not shy away from fear of what pausing things can do.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.38.13

Lesson #3: Keep your race with yourself. Just trust it will work. 

This race I keep referring to – there’s one place it worked. The race with myself instead of against the competition.

Inspired 2014 was a success for me in every sense of the word. Being the fifth production of it, I had fine-tuned things from every previous lesson learned. This was by far my biggest production yet. Every aspect we planned and detailed out just came together almost exactly as I had imagined it.

But during the planning process, I’d sometimes lift my head up and start to see other new workshops and conferences were popping up. As you can imagine, it would just lead my head down the wrong path. I had ugly feelings and thoughts and I hated feeling that way — it went against my ‘cheerleader’ nature. I want everyone to succeed and wholeheartedly believe there is room for everyone is the great wide world. But, I’m human and weak. I recognized the self-defeating nature of comparison and was determined to keep my head down and focused on all the good we could offer at Inspired and the lives we could impact of women and moms like me. When I stayed focused on the good and the energy in what I was doing, it was like magic. I’m so entirely grateful for every speaker, attendee and team members that played a role in it coming together.

As I stared up at the waterfall, knee-deep in fresh creek water, surrounded by friends while a large group was back at the retreat having small group conversations or learning to watercolor paint…I thought to myself, “you did it.”

It taught me that sometimes you have to keep your head down, run your own race, do the hard work, and just have to trust that it will work.

And it did.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.38.48

Lesson #4: Only you can define your definition of success.

For years I had my identity placed in the idea that my success was always linked to leaving my corporate job. My entire goal was to replace my salary with my business income. That was success! But the truth was, I had a really great job. A job that provided me with lots of other stimulation that my creative job sometimes lacked. I had incredible luxuries working for this agency and a great group of people I worked with for almost 9 years. Quite frankly, I was also pretty damn good at it. It’s no wonder that I could almost never leave it. 

But I did leave it and as I navigated leaving that work family behind and the identity of my formal self, I felt lost. Here I was placed in this amazing new job and opportunity and at the same time I didn’t want to lose my own sense of self or for outsiders to think I really hadn’t made it.

I wanted to hang a sign around my neck that read:

Hey! I like my new job AND I still have a pretty great business! I didn’t sell out! 

I had to pull together my new definition of success. 

In this new identity, I feel like I’ve been placed in a unique position that doesn’t have a voice today. I have a job that I’m actually not trying to leave (keep in mind, that has been my thought process for 8 years!) and the luxury that comes along with that has finally come to sink in. The opportunity to redesign my business to truly fit my passions and align them with the amount of time and energy I have left is an amazing gift. The work that I am doing by day is really fun and exciting and supporting everything that makes me excited about creative entrepreneurship – now that I’m working for a small (but also big and growing) creative business.  

I feel really compelled to share more of my story and expertise in juggling business with family obligations – and even a full time job – in the year ahead.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.49.58

Lesson #5: God does amazing things. 

When I first became a mom five years ago, my interest in God started to grow. However, it has been my participation in the Making Things Happen conference the last two years that has really played such a big role in all this. As I was surrounded by friends like Lara and other women who openly talked about their faith, it was inspiring. To see the example by so many friends of placing their hopes, their weaknesses, their failures and their dreams in God’s hands has been life-changing. Slowly over this time, God has been revealing more of His grace each day. I’ve prayed a lot of prayers and one really important one to me was answered just a few weeks ago as we joined as covenant members at Providence UMC ,on the very same day we baptized Kayla. 

This growing faith has been awkward at times but right all at the same time. I’m like a curious school-ager asking lots of questions and discovering new wonderful things. Everywhere I turn, I feel like a person or message is waiting for me at just the right time. Lara, Nancy and Ashlee have been a source of encouragement from afar via emails and texts at social media and such great examples in turning faith completely over to Him. Jenny saw I was looking for a daily devotional on Instagram and reached out to me to say she wanted to gift it to me. That little book has been a blessing each morning since I received it. This past October, I was struggling with parenting issues and I met Casey who spoke directly to my heart in all the promises God had for me as a mother even when I feel completely ill-equipped. I shared with Kristin how badly I wanted a church home and for our family to have God a part of our lives. I never thought the reality would happen so fast, but it did.

God is so good. I’m looking forward to growing my relationship in 2015. I can see how every lesson learned above was all pointing to this one right here.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 21.37.46

So here we are in the first week of 2015! Can you relate to any of the above lessons? Are you using Power Sheets as well? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Looking forward to putting some goals down and tending lists prepared later this week. It’s going to be a fantastic year.

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far!

- Amber

Making Things Happen October 2014 Recap

MTH14-Day1-065

It’s been a little of a whirlwind since I returned from Making Things Happen two weeks ago.

I’m so grateful to have been a guest speaker for the last four conferences. I immensely enjoy serving others in this way but I have to admit, the vulnerability leads me to come home and feel like a little piece of me needs a time out from the world.

When this happens, I lay low just reflecting on all that I’ve learned and digesting the little pieces of discovery.

Just letting it all sink in.

I’m very extroverted by nature, but even I need a little quiet time to myself. My self-imposed little break has me feeling now a bit more energized, and I’m happy to be here this evening sharing a little recap from my recent visit to Chapel Hill.

You should first know that each time I attend Making Things Happen, I find that God unfolds a new plan and shakes things up for me. After three previous life-changing MTH experiences (from deciding baby #2 was in my future, to 8 months pregnant last October, to returning last March with 12-week Kayla at home) it’s safe to say, at this point, I just kind of go with it. Hands open, palms up, and ready for what is in store for me.

  making things happen conference recap

My experience this time was one where I arrived already feeling pretty firm in where I was at. There wasn’t going to be any surprises. I already knew very well that 2014 was defined as a roller coaster of a adventure and emotions filled with exhilarating highs and long periods of hard work and exhaustion. I was a new mom all over again, our son started kindergarten, my business doubled in size and I left my long-time career at a marketing firm for an amazing opportunity at a growing scrapbooking company. I’m sure I left out some other important details in that summary but I’m tired just reading that sentence.

The experience for me this time was one of reflection and truth. I had a lot of words and emotions in my head for sometime and this was an opportunity for me to voice them, if only for myself to hear and believe it for myself.

In recent months (and years), I had piled and piled and held so many things in my arms for so long. It felt good in the weeks prior to MTH to just drop it all and decide which meaningful things would stay, and which would be packaged neatly away. I didn’t know what the future held (and I still can’t say I do very clearly), but I knew that I was ready to edit, to purge, and just start with a fresh work surface again.

making things happen

As I sat in my chair in the front of the room, my thoughts drifted back to the girl who first attended MTH in 2011 and I want to hug her.

I want to whisper in her ear and tell her, “Yes! Run hard and fast and chase those dreams. Sometimes you will stumble and sometimes you will leap. You are headed in the right direction. It may not be what you thought…but you will be okay.”

I really do believe it. Though it would have been nice to discover these things years ago, I never would have fully known had I not gone through the journey. The only regret I have is that I wish I had let go a little sooner. Letting go of being in control, letting go of aspirations and achievements and definitions of success that don’t have a lot of meaning to me anymore. I truly just want to serve others through my gifts. I want to inspire others to live a creative and meaningful life. I want to love my family and friends. The End.

As each of us speakers shared in the closing, I looked at the attendees and said something I would have appreciated hearing in the recent past.

That girl with the full arms, the full schedule and long priority list:

Stop thinking your plan is the right one. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Not next week, not next year, not the future you have in mind. Right here, right now. This is where God has placed you to be.

I tend to go back a few weeks and months later and read through my collection of MTH journals. Sometimes I surprise myself at the messages I find that I don’t even remember writing. They are such a treasure from the experience in themselves.

In my most recent journal, I found this neatly written at the top of a page:

“How freeing it is to be not wrapped up in a goal list of achievements of things for me and my business but instead for the heart of my family.”

That sentence alone gives me such gratitude for the Making Things Happen experience.

MTH14-Day1-146

MTH-Day2-293

Day 2 - MTH October 2014 - Glessner Photography 064

As I said earlier, it’s been a few weeks since returning home. I think I’m still getting settled in this newly edited life. It feels really good but some days a little bit awkward. The long-time entrepreneur in me still awakes each day with a little tug to start a new chapter of some sort. This clean workspace I referred to earlier has me excited to create. I don’t know what it looks like, but I’m looking forward to just patiently waiting to see how it unfolds. In the mean time, my weddings and Inspired planning for 2015 on top of my new role at Studio Calico keeps me plenty busy and happy.

And for the first time in a really long while, I don’t feel the need to be in a rush to get anywhere soon.

I’m enjoying exactly where I am.

My phrase written for myself this MTH was fittingly:

I AM PRESENT.

MTHGroup_04

The Making Things Happen Conference 2015 registration is now open! You can reserve your seat here. If you have any questions about it, I’d be happy to answer them for you. Making Things Happen is all about living a life with purpose and focusing on what matters most. You can be anywhere in your business or personal journey. We’d love to have you join us.

Thank you to Emily March Payne and Glessner Photography for the photos used in this post!

Welcome Kayla Grace

saraerose-photo

The details and story:

Our sweet little girl arrived into the world on December 28th! My best friend and photographer Sara Rose was there to capture her birth story. You can read some of the story and see highlights at her blog post here: http://www.saraerosephotographyblog.com/2014/01/this-is-the-day-you-were-born/

I love the lyrics of the song “Always” by Switchfoot Sara chose to use in our personal slideshow. They are so perfect and meaningful:

This is the start, this is your heart
This is the day you were born
This is the sun, these are your lungs
This is the day you were born

Hallelujah, I’m caving in
Hallelujah, I’m in love again
Hallelujah, I’m a wretched man
Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance

And it is always yours
And I am always yours 

We were happily surprised back in May when we found out about her arrival. Our special announcement was made here. Fast forward seven months later and we can’t imagine life without her in it!

Her name:

We went back and forth on her name as she grew in my belly, but I always really loved the name Kayla. It was short and sweet and I loved the many meanings of it: Pure, Beloved and Rejoice. On the way home from a trip to the beach this Fall, we finally decided to make a decision – and her big brother cast the deciding vote of Kayla. Grace just seemed like a perfect fit with it. Her name is a perfect fit for how her birth story came to be.

Thank you!

Thank you friends for all the wishes you have sent our way! What an amazing way to start the new year.